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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Where Do I Differ from Others in Curing?

Wherein do I differ in theory and practice from all others who cure the sick?

All mankind, with possibly a few exceptions, have admitted the existence of disease as something independent of the mind; the cure, therefore, must be brought about by some agent also independent of the mind. Various measures and inventions are accordingly resorted to as remedies in the treatment of disease. Most people believe in medicine as a remedy; some believe in prayer and in the influence of departed spirits; mineral water and sea bathing, mesmerism and foreign travel are often recommended for the same purpose, all of which claim a power independent of man's reason and are believed to contain a virtue far superior to man himself. To me, however, they are all deceptions, from the drugs of the allopathist to the prayers of the Mormon. They are all founded on one idea, viz: that the body contains intelligence. I employ none of these aids; I believe they are the medium of disease and instead of lessening the evil they increase it.

This was the case, for instance, in the Salem witchcraft; unable to explain the phenomenon, the people in their efforts to suppress the disease only extended it.

My theory is this. Mind is matter and the medium of wisdom. Like iron or clay, it contains no wisdom in itself but only is a material to be molded into ideas by wisdom or error. Mind (being the material called man) is a shadow or machine whose owner cannot be seen. Man may be compared to a corporation: you see the building, the machinery and the operation, but the corporation you do not see. In like manner, you see the human body, but the power that works it, though it is the real man, is invisible.

Now when the machine gets out of order, I do not address myself to the machine but to the intelligence that controls it. I do not call to my aid mediums, spirits, electricity or any of the popular agencies of the day, but I appeal directly to the owner of the body and seek to enlighten him as to the cause of the difficulty and the means of correcting it. If I succeed, then the patient himself effects the cure, and the cure is a permanent one, for the same influence that destroyed the disease will prevent a repetition of it. This is what Jesus meant when he said: “Whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” With children, however, and those who are not able to understand the truth, I am obliged to apply the correction not to the intelligence but to the mind; but I should as soon think of checking the operations of a steam engine by throwing coal on the fire as of changing a patient's mind by a dose of medicine. Let me illustrate this further by a galvanic battery. Call the battery the body and the liquids the mind. When the battery is set in motion, certain results follow. Electricity, like thought, is thrown off and if wrongly directed a bad result is produced. This is illness. Now, in order to correct the difficulty, a doctor would give his attention to the battery as though the cause of the difficulty resided there; I would give mine to the operator, for I deem the ignorance of the operator the disease and the supposed difficulty simply its natural effect.

There is a vast difference between a disease and a phenomenon. Idiocy, for instance, is not a disease, for a fool is perfectly satisfied with himself. But tell a bright child it is becoming a fool, repeating the assertion till the child believes you, and it will commence to create a mental image like the pattern given to it. The misery you have produced on the child's senses shows itself in the image and this in turn produces some disturbance in the body. This the world calls disease; I call it the effect of disease, the natural result of the misery contained in the belief.

I will cite a case in point. I was called to visit a little girl who was sick. I found her lying on a lounge in a kind of stupor, utterly unmindful of what was passing on around her. She had been in this condition nearly a year. Her parents, having previously consulted a physician, told me that she had water on her brain and that she was losing her mind in consequence of it. After two or three visits I became convinced that there was no water on her brain but that the child's insensibility was caused by her parents' belief in the fact assumed. The result proved that I was correct. I gradually awoke the child from her stupor, changed the direction of her mind and restored her to her health. In this case it was clear to me that the parents had communicated their belief, which they had derived from the doctor, to the child and were making her an idiot.

I make use of my own intelligence as the sole medium of my cures; others ascribe efficacy to external remedies. The homeopath puts virtue into a powder which must be powerful. The Spiritualist puts intelligence into the dead. The Christian who is taught that prayer can cure believes the remedy to be in the prayer. All have something external to themselves in which to locate the curative power. I have not. The wisdom by which I cure, being superior to the cause of the disease, comprehends it and knows that all medicine is useless except as it satisfies the patient while nature restores the mind to a quiet state. The doctor then claims that the medicine has cured.

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